After watching Ben Lee's spirited, high-energy performance from the edge of the stage at The Troubadour in West Hollywood last week, I was the first fan to verbally assault him (I use the term "verbally assault" lovingly) in the bar after the show. Sure, I had to shove aside a couple starfucking hot chicks, but that's what starfucking hot chicks deserve, and, if it's in my power, I always like to give people what they deserve.
"Ben!" I yelled.
He turned to me and a genuine look of recognition washed over his face. I had met him two times before (see previous posts, linked above), so he smiled and nodded and exclaimed in his Australian lilt, "Hey! Yeah! I remember you!"
You have to understand something. To me, being remembered by Ben Lee is equivalent to winning a Nobel Peace Prize. (So, if the Nobel committee has been considering giving me an award, I don't need it anymore.) The fact that he didn't scream, "Crazy gay Asian stalker!," would've been enough of a triumph, but to be remembered fondly is the ultimate victory.
PRINCE: I love the new album.
BEN: Oh, thank you.
PRINCE: "Wake Up to America" is beautiful.
BEN: Thanks. You know, we actually got a hold of some old recordings of Abbie Hoffman, but we couldn't get the rights to use them in the song, but maybe we'll try to put them on the Internet or something.
At this point, I'm thinking, "Shit. Who the fuck is Abbie Hoffman? I've heard the name. Symbionese Liberation Army? Member of the Grateful Dead? Chicago 10? If I actually paid attention in history class back in school, I could continue this conversation, and Ben and I could chat about smart things."
Totally blanking, I figured it was best to get out of there alive. "Great concert! Bye!" I said before scampering off with Jake.
You can currently listen to "Wake Up to America" on Ben Lee's MySpace page, where his entire new album, The Rebirth of Venus, is streaming for free. I'm not sure what Abbie Hoffman has to do with it, but it is better to be remembered than smart.
As Jake and I headed to my car, we reminisced about the show. Ben played one great song after another, frequently inviting the audience to sing along, and was backed by the Low vs. Diamond band (who opened) and by Nic Johns.
The highlight of the concert was perhaps Ben's cover version of The Atari's "Ben Lee," a vicious 2001 song/musical death threat that Ben performed with ironic glee. Somebody caught it on video at the San Francisco show. Watch (lyrics below):
I never met someone so jaded
Your music's really overrated
Nothing but a lot of pretentious noise
I know that Claire Danes is your chick
To me you're just some ugly prick who got lucky
'Cause he knew the Beastie Boys
And I can't stand it
A lot goes on but nothing happens
But this time that's not true
I wrote this song for you
To tell you that your 15 minutes of fame are almost up
Yeah, one more thing, Ben Lee you suck
Bob Dylan must be kinda pissed
'Cause you've been writing all his hits
Packaged and reprocessed for the world
I'd love to kick you in the face
Break your legs and throw you from a train
'Cause you're such a fucking girl
And I can't stand it
I guess this song's come to an end
I'll say good bye until we meet again
You better stay out of my town
'Cause if I had my way
I'd call up Snoop, Ice Cube, and Dr. Dre
We'd come and beat you down
Ben Lee is smart enough (he knows who Abbie Hoffman is) to make light of that stuff, as much as he makes light of overcoming the world's problems, which brings us to the new single off the new album, the delightfully anthemic "I Love Pop Music." Watch:
I love that "turn up the radio" backing vocal. It makes me want to shun history and use this moment to dance. Sorry, Abbie Hoffman, whoever you are.